Call your folks

wood 2There’s a story in the book of Joshua where God holds back the sun so the Hebrews could have more time to fight on and subdue their enemies. 

More time.  Man, I wish.  Of course, most of us would just blow it.  But somewhere in our collective psyche where “deep calls unto deep” is that gnawing feeling that time is something we can’t grasp or control.  A cursory glimpse at even modern entertainment is informative—sci-fi time travel flicks abound, even the humor of “Ground Hog’s Day” maybe-I-can-get-it-right-this-time wistful thinking is not far below the surface for most of us. 

So somewhere thousands of feet over Midwest farmlands, I was in a jet heading home from seeing my parents for a few days at their retirement village.  Dad was recovering from a knee problem across the street from where mom was preparing for their new digs in the apartment complex. 

After sharing my dad’s breakfast table with a 93-year-old WW2 veteran, after hearing of one of their friends who skipped her chemo so she could go hiking in Colorado (“just give me a little extra medicine this time, will ya?”), and after meeting some of the other indomitable souls in their neighborhood, it kind of makes me think twice before complaining about…anything. 

We went to church together that Pentecost Sunday morning huddled around his computer at the foot of his hospital bed watching the live-stream from their Methodist Church with mom and one of their neighbors (a retired world-traveled physician who can now only see peripherally due to a degenerative eye problem—but walks everywhere anyway.)  I’m kicking myself for not providing some grape juice and flat bread for communion.  (“The good Lord knows our hearts, honey.”)

One of my parents’ good friends from W-A-Y back, (meaning my teenage years, okay, no wise-cracks necessary), is now in his 90’s and just returned home to the same complex from visiting family from the west coast.  I am informed he is of the polar-opposite political party than my father, which in this day and age could mean, well, we all know the vitriol that implies.  Evidently, they are both “old school”, which means that they can discuss politics without interference in their relationship. 

Would that we had such maturity these days.

Dad’s the one who taught me to “ask for the moon” but won’t ask for a bag of ice when he bumps his bad ankle on the wheelchair.  When I mention a plan to call for something, it’s “oh, no, don’t bother them…”  So I have dubbed myself “the wicked witch of the West” and I can imagine the nurses in report saying, “she called again.” (One of my main consolations is all the heavy lifting my local siblings do when it needs to be done.  This long distance thing STINKS.)

Dad says that as the light streams through his window in the morning, he gives thanks to the Lord for another day of life.  My folks have a perspective that my culture has largely lost, or missed altogether—gratitude.  Fortitude.  Resilience. 

Gray hair is a crown of glory;
    it is gained by living a godly life.

Now, let’s see, who shall the witch bother today?  

(Call your folks!)

Proverbs 16:31 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Hoosier yer folks?

IMG_20150103_172451138When I was “back home again in Indiana”, (and, if you’re a native Hoosier, you’re probably familiar with that song, even though no one seems to know where “Hoosier” itself comes from)…anyway, when I was back home again in Indiana just last weekend to see the folks, I was helping them consolidate to move into their new apartment. 

Both of them are your typical Builder-Gen—responsible, frugal, forward-thinking, hard-working.  Nothing is to be assumed, (Dad taught me how to spell “assume”—it makes an “ass out of u and me”), and nothing is to be taken for granted.  Gratitude is a chosen attitude, and God’s will and wisdom are superior to mine. 

Yes, I know not to put my folks a pedestal, and I don’t.  But let’s be real; not everyone has had parents like mine.

So while I’m helping Dad recuperate from a knee problem across the street in a separate facility, Mom and my sis (who is local—thank God!) are sorting, organizing, and packing and sweating, with Dad and I out of the way. 

Mom did request, bless her heart, that my brother and I go through Dad’s old financial records (V-E-R-Y old) before she takes them to the shredder, not because Continue reading “Hoosier yer folks?”

That’s what doorbells are for.

IMG_20150103_172451138Best dating story: Bob and I were coming home from an evening out.  As I was still in college, I lived with my parents in the summer, and my dad, as a stickler for protecting his family, always had the door locked if I got home late enough and they had gone to bed.  Naturally, I also always had a key to get in when my soon-to-be finance would deposit me at the front step.

The key, however, only fit the main entrance, not the outer screen door…

What happened next was almost something out of Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.  Bob, being the practical science-guy he is, couldn’t understand why I didn’t just ring the door bell, (which, to this day, seems like the most sagacious option), but in deference to my objections, he pulled his little Pinto (remember those?) around to the driveway and helped me go from the big wooden storage box, to the top of his car, and onto the garage roof which led to my own second story window.  Thankfully, I had left the window open, but DRAT!  There was that locked screen window (what is it with screens??) that I had to poke my fingers through to raise, hoping that the family dog wasn’t currently my room ready to sound the intruder alarm.

Having successfully deposited his future bride safely, albeit not conveniently, within her home, Bob took off and I went to bed, thinking I would relate the incident to my folks…someday.  Until I got up that morning and they asked me how I had gotten in last night, as Dad noticed he had locked the screen door, and Mom was wondering what my shoes were doing in the garage.

At what point in a young person’s life does she realize that her parents are not stupid?

Now, Dad is a fixer; property is something that must be improved and/or maintained, so my screen window didn’t stay impaled for long, allowing for mosquitoes, bees, and other pests equal access to my room, (geewhiz, hadn’t thought of that one).  And thankfully, I didn’t dent Bob’s car, pull off the guttering or slip and break my neck scampering up the shingles.  In retrospect (sigh) I should have just rung the doorbell!

Which is kinda the point the writer of Hebrews is making when he says:

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

I wonder how much wasted time, energy, and (gulp!) destruction I have caused by not first coming boldly to my Father’s presence.  What fears have stolen my peace, what anxieties have poked holes in my power, and what kind of hellacious peril I have put myself (and others) in due to my lack of faith in God’s most holy acceptance of me because of His Son!

Bob
And he STILL takes me on dates: roses and camo. What more could a girl want??

After all, I’m one of the family.  If I’m feeling locked out, I just have to ring the bell.

Hebrews 4:16  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Who reads YOUR blog??

My labcoat, but adorned with my father's old RCA pocket protector, circa 1960's.
My lab coat, but adorned with my father’s old RCA pocket protector, circa 1960’s.

My parents called to wish me a happy birthday.  It’s no fun living as far away as I do from the family that I love.  Hurray for all the modern available communications modes like wireless calling (we used to have to pay extra for “long distance”), and video chatting (something from the old cartoon “the Jetsons”), all part of this ubiquitous thing called The Internet.  Mom and Dad bought my book, and then they actually read it.  I flat out don’t deserve parents this good. 

Then I found out they are reading my blog.  All of it.  Each and every page.    

Before anyone snickers, I hasten to add that I’m really okay with that.  In fact, I’m more than okay—I’m thrilled!  If there are two people who have earned the right to correct me, disagree with me, and speak into my life, it’s Mom and Dad.  (I repeat, I don’t deserve parents this good….)  Here’s the thing: I’ve been reading their lives for many years.  I know the pain, well…some of it anyway.  I’ve seen the triumphs.  I’ve heard the regrets (not all well-founded, in my not-so-humble opinion, but certainly sincere).  And overarching it all, I see the love; I am a product of the love, the love that
“believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” like Paul talks about in his letter to the Corinthian church back in the day. 

And I am then very pointedly reminded that others read my life also. Others that I’m not even aware of.  In fact, everyone has a hidden congregation of sorts, ones we’re not cognizant of who are reading the blogging in our lives and deciding whether to click the star, tap on the retweet button, or most importantly, hit the follow widget. 

And God reads our lives. Dad likes to tell the story of a few years back when he and his brother,  Gene, each independently  found a $20 bill laying loose in a grocery store.  Separate incidents, separate cities, same reaction: both Dad and Uncle Gene walked up to the counter and turned it in.  When they heard about each other’s encounters with a little extra cash, Dad said it was like my grandmother was watching from heaven to see whether her two boys were going to remember what they had been taught so many years ago.  I can only imagine her smile, and God’s.

Today is a new day, or as they say, a blank page.  Okay, so maybe mine has a few smudges and ink spots from past mistakes, but it’s still a new page.  What I choose to write on it is ultimately up to me. 

And may I choose my words carefully—Mom and Dad are reading!!